Obituary: Paul Ginnis

26th February 2015 at 11:15

Paul Ginnis was one of the longest-established education consultants in the UK and author of the influential guide The Teacher’s Toolkit.

His work was driven by a deep belief that the role of a teacher is about more than just getting students through exams. He felt that, at its heart, education was about helping learners to develop the skills and attitudes they needed to pursue their own interests and contribute to society. 

But he was always pragmatic – recognising that teachers needed practical ideas to help them to achieve these goals.

This combination of principles and practice, delivered with a good dollop of humour, ensured that Mr Ginnis's training days were in great demand. He worked with thousands of schools in the UK and travelled to international schools in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America.

He was born in Biddulph, near Stoke-on-Trent, in 1955 and attended Sandbach School. He went on to study theology at Durham University and completed a PGCE at the former Birmingham Polytechnic. He then began teaching RE in secondary schools in Birmingham.

In the late 1980s, Mr Ginnis joined the team of staff development tutors at Birmingham local education authority. Unlike the local authority advisers, who specialised in particular subjects, the staff development tutors focused on generic skills.

It was a time of upheaval in education, with the introduction of GCSEs and the first national curriculum. Mr Ginnis not only advised school staff but also co-authored two books with Dr Donna Brandes, A Guide to Student-centred Learning and The Student-Centred School. He became known for his energy and his knack of being able to distil masses of information to isolate the essential points.

These qualities served him well when, in 1992, he decided to leave Birmingham and set up a freelance consultancy. He needed to advertise only once; after that word-of-mouth recommendations were enough to keep him in work, which, over the years, spread from the Midlands to locations as far away as Peru and Malaysia.

Outside work, Mr Ginnis was a life-long Stoke City supporter, having first gone to see matches with his grandfather. After moving back to Alsager in 2002, he made friends with backroom staff, taking them Easter eggs, and became well known around the ground.

He also loved music, building an extensive vinyl collection stretching across many genres from classical to punk. He twice fulfilled his dream of being a roadie, blocking out several weeks for two tours of the country; one with The Zombies and a second time with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

Steve Munby, chief executive of the CfBT Education Trust said of Mr Ginnis: "Paul and I first met when we were both probationary teachers in Sutton Coldfield in the late 1970s.

"He was one of the best teachers it has ever been my privilege to observe, able to enthuse and engage even the most challenging of classes. His influence on teachers – through his writing and his training courses – has been far-reaching, inspirational and transformational.

"We have been close friends for nearly 40 years and I will remember him as a hugely talented person who, in both a private and a professional context, was able to light up a room with his energy and his enthusiasm. He will be greatly missed."

Mr Ginnis died at home of a heart attack on Friday 30 January. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, three children and one grandchild.

Please note, the book The Teachers Toolkit is not connected with the Twitter account @teachertoolkit, which is run by Ross McGill.


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